Encouraging active citizenship
Playing out sessions are a form of community action taken by parents and residents wanting to change things.
Taking action close to home
By organising a playing out session or helping on the day as a steward, residents are taking action to create safe, outdoor free play opportunities for children close to home, and to make their streets a better to place to live for people of all ages.
Active citizens and having a voice
Alongside the health and community impact of playing out sessions, getting more involved in the life of their street also often inspires people to get involved in other things locally. We know of people who have gone on to attend their neighbourhood forums, working on infrastructure changes to make areas more bike and pedestrian friendly. Some have used playing out sessions to collect toys and clothes for donating. Others have gone on to encourage and support playing out sessions beyond their own streets, working as ‘activators’ in the local areas where they live and beyond.
In our 2017 survey of playing out streets, over a third of survey respondents said that being involved in playing out has led to involvement in other community groups and activities. One said, ‘I feel more empowered to make positive change in my community and in the street where I live’. Public health research now shows that this sense of agency and power to change things has a positive impact on people’s health.
A positive example for children and young people
Seeing the adults around them meeting, taking action and changing their street from a ‘no-go’ area to a public space that’s open for play and for the whole street community to enjoy is good for children. It demonstrates many positive social values in action: citizenship, a shared sense of public space and pride of place, and community activism.